Friday, June 3, 2011

On the slipway - 1

Ali Ben-Becula demonstrates the scale as the dhow heads for the paint and rigging shops.

Here's a little something from the naval side of Africa Station. Those who follow Major-General Rederring's website will know he has a number of free-for-use templates there, one of which is for an Arab dhow. I made use of this to construct the handy vessel shown above. Since that esteemed website is still down at the moment, I will take the liberty of posting the template here below. 

These make a model 7 1/2" long (measuring cutwater to transom) by 3 1/4" wide. The deck space is sufficient for nine or ten 28mm figures. I printed the templates out on paper then cut and glued them to thin card for durability, since I intend to use them several times. The dhow itself is built from the type of card found in cereal boxes. It's easy to work, inexpensive, and for those of a green disposition, it also reuses the things.

I've made a few modifications to the basic design. I added a quarterdeck, giving a slight increase in deck space and a position for command figures to stand. The main deck is mounted on a rectangle of 1/2" thick foamcore for additional support. For ease of transport, storage - and to show battle damage - I inserted a short length of coffee-stirrer tube in the deck to act as a socket for the mast. Another short length of tube is glued atop the rudder post to hold an ensign, which can be swapped out as the dhow changes hands. The mast and lateen yard are made of bamboo kebob skewers. 

The only weak spot on this model is the beak, which tends to be flimsy even when two layers of card are glued together. An isosceles tringle of card glued along the top acts as a stiffener. An additional tip is to have large paperclips to hand, as these are useful for holding the prow and stern sections together while the glue sets.

So there we have it: The construction phase is finished, but I'm not entirely sure which color scheme to paint this in. Plain gray-brown weathered wood for the deck and hull? Something more colorful, like blood red? Thoughts and comments are welcome.


Bluebear Jeff said...


I would suggest building a few more and painting them different colors. And I would paint the decks a contrasting color.

With a number of dhows, you have the option of dhow vs dhow . . . also a mass attack by several units on a camp.

Long ago I built a half-dozen 'native canoes' in such a way that they'd each hold 11 figures (10 Zulu's and a crewman). I still have them somewhere too. Very useful.

-- Jeff

Milo Burgh said...

I made two dwohs like those in a reduced scale for my children... oh well, I can make more.
The Major-General web is down?? Oh hell...

A J said...

Jeff: Good suggestions. I'll build two more. The decks will probably be a washed-out off white. I measured the deck space using figures mounted on 1" fender washers, and the dhow can take 12 without undue crowding.

Emilio: I think by using the standard Paint program the template can be rescaled pretty much as you wish. A large dhow could be an ocean going trader. As for the MG's site, apparently it's down only temporarilry due to server problems. Here's hoping it's back up soon. =)

Tim said...

The Major General's site has always been one of my favorites. You can still see it via the Way Back Machine site here:

Martin said...

Hi A.J.,

Looking good and thanks for sharing the plans and technique. Are you going to name the first one, "The Dhow Do You Do"? (Sorry! I couldn't resist.)


A J said...

Tim: Many thanks for the link! Hopefully the site will be up and running again (with new content, perhaps?) soon.

Martin: YVW. You might like to know shares in Arabian vessels are listed on the Dhow Jones Index. ;)

Anonymous said...

Looks good AJ, and nice to see someone using cereal packet card for modelling. I've been using it for a while now for all the reasons you state.
Any plans for the Navy to make an appearance? - after all Britannia does rule the waves!

all the best


A J said...

Hi Ian, thanks for asking. I do have a project in mind, which I'll cover in a later post. =)


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